Voda­fone has switched on 5G at Lon­don Gatwick Air­port, pro­vid­ing the oper­a­tor with an oppor­tu­ni­ty to show­case the ben­e­fits of its next-gen­er­a­tion net­work to trav­ellers and to busi­ness­es.

Pas­sen­gers in depar­ture lounges will be able to quick­ly down­load enter­tain­ment for their flight, while busi­ness trav­ellers land­ing will be able to check emails as soon as they land, with­out fear that net­work con­ges­tion will get in their way.

The South Ter­mi­nal is already live, with the North Ter­mi­nal set to fol­low by ear­ly 2020.

Vodafone 5G

“Pas­sen­gers using the net­work will ben­e­fit from super­fast speeds when surf­ing the web and down­load­ing files, or even box sets to pro­vide video enter­tain­ment dur­ing one of the many long haul flights that depart from the air­port,” declared John Bar­ton, Gatwick Air­port CIO.

Voda­fone believes air­ports are a per­fect exam­ple of how the greater capac­i­ty and reli­a­bil­i­ty of 5G can help busi­ness­es. With 24,000 staff on-site and 46 mil­lion pas­sen­gers trav­el­ling through each year, Gatwick is a high­ly dense site with plen­ty of devices com­pet­ing for cov­er­age.

“5G also has the poten­tial to unlock a wide range of new capa­bil­i­ties and to reli­ably con­nect every­thing around us to a net­work many times faster than those it replaces,” added Bar­ton. “Many of the 250 com­pa­nies based on the Gatwick cam­pus can also ben­e­fit from this super­fast 5G ser­vice, includ­ing those that rely heav­i­ly on mobile appli­ca­tions for their day to day busi­ness.”

The net­work also has the poten­tial to sup­port Gatwick’s ‘smart air­port’ ini­tia­tives. Over the past few years, it has exper­i­ment­ed with tri­als of bea­cons for indoor nav­i­ga­tion, a new dig­i­tal radio sys­tem and open data ini­tia­tives as it seeks to com­pete with rivals like Heathrow.

Going for­ward, the  air­port is set to tri­al robot­ic park­ing and the fur­ther automa­tion of a num­ber of check-in and board­ing pro­ce­dures.

5G has the poten­tial to con­nect even more sys­tems and sup­port mis­sion-crit­i­cal appli­ca­tions Ultra-low laten­cy, for exam­ple, will enable appli­ca­tions that require instant com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

“The instal­la­tion of hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres of fibre at the air­port will enable us to offer great cov­er­age to the mil­lions of peo­ple who use Gatwick Air­port each year, as well as to con­nect its sys­tems and vehi­cles on site,” added Scott Pet­ty, Voda­fone UK CTO. “For exam­ple, by con­nect­ing mobil­i­ty carts, air­port staff will know where they are at all times, mean­ing they are bet­ter able to help pas­sen­gers who need sup­port.” 

Voda­fone switched on its 5G net­work in July with the inten­tion of reach­ing loca­tions in 19 towns and cities before the end of the year. It has also launched 5G in Ger­many, Italy and Spain, allow­ing cus­tomers to roam on 5G where avail­able.

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